[INDOLOGY] Tan Matra

Andrew Nicholson andrew.nicholson at stonybrook.edu
Mon Mar 25 14:59:29 UTC 2013

Dear Prof. Deheja,

Sankara addresses the existence of Samkhya's principles (tattvas) at
Brahma Sutra Bhasya 2.1.2. His primary problem with Samkhya is its
assertion of primordial nature (pradhAna) as an independent,
irreducible cause apart from Brahman. But he also says: "The
principles different from the pradhAna, but to be viewed as its
modifications which the [Samkhya] Smrti assumes, as, for instance, the
great principle (mahat), are perceived neither in the Veda nor in
ordinary experience. Now things of the nature of the elements (bhUtas)
and the sense organs (indriyas), which are well known from the Veda,
as well as from experience, may be referred to in Smrti; but with
regard to things which, like Kapila's great principle (mahat), are
known neither from the Veda nor from experience--no more than, for
instance, the objects of a sixth sense--Smrti is altogether

Here he clearly rejects the existence of mahat/buddhi as described by
Samkhya, while accepting the gross elements (mahAbhUtas) and sense
organs (indriyas). He does not to the best of my knowledge use the
term Samkhya uses, tanmAtra, to denote subtle elements. However, it is
clear from his discussion of transmigration after death at BSB 3.1.1,
for instance, that he does in general admit the existence of subtle
elements. They would be included among those things "well known from
the Veda, as well as from experience."

Of course, an Advaitin can only accept the existence of subtle and
gross elements at the conventional (vyAvahArika) level, not the
ultimate (pAramArthika) level. But Sankara denies that mahat exists
even at the level of conventional truth.

Best wishes,
Andrew J. Nicholson
Associate Professor (on leave 2012-2013)
SUNY Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5343  USA
Tel: (631) 632-4030  Fax: (631) 632-4098

Senior Fellow (2012-2013)
Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637  USA
Tel: (773) 702-7049  Fax: (773) 702-6048

On Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM, <indology-request at list.indology.info> wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Dipak Bhattacharya <dbhattacharya200498 at yahoo.com>
> To: Harsha Dehejia <harshadehejia at hotmail.com>, Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
> Cc:
> Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2013 20:05:10 +0800 (SGT)
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Tan Matra
> 25 3 13
> indology at list.indology.info
> Dear Dr. Daheja,
> I think the answer to your question should depend on which Vedānta or which-age-Vedānta you are addressing. Śaṅkara denounced and rejected Sānkhya challenging it as the main adversary. But later Vedānta accommodated the Sāṅkhya philosophy as a lesser truth.
> Best
> DB
> ________________________________
> From: Harsha Dehejia <harshadehejia at hotmail.com>
> To: Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
> Sent: Monday, 25 March 2013 2:03 PM
> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Tan Matra
> Friends~
> Would it be correct to say that the Sankhya concept of Tan Matra would not be acceptable to the Advaita Vedantins as it brings in multiple, rather than, a single reality?
> Kind regards.
> Harsha
> Prpf. Harsha V. Dehejia
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> http://listinfo.indology.info
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> http://list.indology.info/mailman/listinfo/indology_list.indology.info

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list